I’ll have to do a breakdown of lefties vs righties in this bracket, because this is the second straight matchup of southpaws… although this one is between a lefty listed at 5-10 and a lefty listed at 6-10. Both played pro ball, though!
- Erne Valdes (Front Royal 2016) was, according to ATVL, the top starter in the league. In six starts that summer, he went 2-1, 1.04, with a 0.836 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, and 11.7 K/9 in 34 2/3 innings pitched. Returning to NAIA St. Thomas for his last two seasons, he went a combined 10-5, 3.22, with a 1.24 WHIP, 5.7 BB/9, and 13.6 K/9 in 106 2/3 innings. Missing bats like that will get you noticed, and sure enough, the Texas Rangers signed Valdes as an undrafted free agent in 2018, and assigned him to the rookie-level Arizona League. He appeared in 16 games at that level, going 1-2, 3.86, with two saves, a 1.04 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, and 13.5 K/9 in 28 innings. While it seems that the Rangers might have kept him around after striking out 42 in 28 innings, they released him after that summer.
- James Ziemba (Harrisonburg 2014-15) was the 5th best starter in the 2015 summer. Back for another summer in the ‘Burg, Ziemba went 3-1, 2.08 in 34 2/3 innings, with a 0.922 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and 5.7 K/9. He returned to Duke for two more years, 2016 and 2017, and was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 22nd round after his senior year in 2017. He pitched in 20 games for rookie-level Orem in ’17, and then in 39 games the next summer for low-A Burlington… and was released. Over the two seasons, Ziemba went a combined 8-2, 3.76, with seven saves, a 1.54 WHIP, 4.3 BB/9, and 7.7 K/9 in 110 total innings.
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And by the way, if you want to read a ton about either the 2015 or 2019 VBL season, be sure to check out this post on the 2019 Valley League Annual.
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